Archive for the ‘Things I Love Thursday’ Category

Things I Love Thursday #99: getting out more!

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Remember my 30 before 30 promise? #6? Get out more. I already started out pretty well… and I am keeping it up! I’m just home from two back-to-back autumnal jollies:

First, to York!

York Nov 14 (1)

York Nov 14 (2)

York Nov 14 (17)

York Nov 14 (18)

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York Nov 14 (36)

York Nov 14 (38)

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York Nov 14 (45)

I’ve written about the magic of York — and my favourite places there — before. Unsurprisingly, I returned to all those places on this trip, too! I also scoffed my own weight in amazing vegan food, trawled the thrift shops (of course), and perused many a bookshop. Basically my typical weekend.

…then London!

I didn’t take many photos in London, and I’m kinda kicking myself. I wish I had photographed the super-cute sleeping pod-room we stayed in at Z Victoria, for example, or some of the millions of cute dogs we saw all over the place! Still, here’s a tiny taster of what I got up to…

London weekend, Nov 14

This was the main reason we headed south in the first place: to see Speed-The-Plow. Yes, that is Lindsay Lohan’s face (and yes, I look like a madwoman). It’s her West End (in fact, her stage) debut. However, she is in no way the reason we went. The reason is her co-star, the amazing Richard Schiff, aka Toby Ziegler, my favourite character from my favourite show ever, The West Wing. Here’s my favourite nine seconds of Toby, to give you a flavour of his character:

Needless to say, he was bloody excellent in this role. I may be biased, but even in spite of my bias, he was excellent. I believe that critics have been needlessly snotty about the play — and especially backhandedly unpleasant about Lohan. (If your whole review boils down to “it wasn’t as good as when Kevin Spacey did it,” then you’re a shite critic — especially if only sentences beforehand you’ve been rude about the casting of movie stars as a ploy to get butts on seats.) Personally, I absolutely loved it. But then (perhaps surprisingly, for those of you who know me) I love Mamet. Not everyone does.

London weekend, Nov 14

London weekend, Nov 14

Many of the cute dogs we saw were in Kensington Gardens. I had never been to Kensington before but holy wow, it is swanky. Everyone there has really good shoes.
(I went there to have afternoon tea in a pOAsh hotel, wearing my moth-holed skirt and a charity shop t-shirt that I’d sawed the hem off. Fortunately, they seemed to take pity on me and did not throw me out.)

London weekend, Nov 14

Finally, here is a photo of me with a plushie Moomin I found in Foyles on the South Bank. I really wanted him, but I’d already bought a megaton of poetry books and there was just no space in my hand-luggage. I will just have to stare sadly at this photograph instead.

What are YOU loving this week?

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #98: Halloween Special

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

I did a particularly spooky tour of Cumbria, in honour of Halloween…

Autumn in Cumbria (3)

Autumn in Cumbria (13)

You remember I told you that Martyna is especially skilled at finding cool adventures for us to go on? Well, here’s another: we went to see Long Meg & Her Sisters, a Druidic stone circle in North Cumbria. It’s the third largest circle in the UK after Stonehenge and the Ring of Brodgar and has over fifty stones. It is also totally deserted — for some reason, barely anyone knows about it.

Autumn in Cumbria (15)

Long Meg (she’s the taller stone that’s sort of the shape of a pointer on a sundial — or a witch’s hat — in the pic above and in the first one in this post) was supposedly the mother to over fifty daughters, all witches. One night they were out doing their witchy thing, dancing in the moonlight and casting spells, when Michael Scot, famous Scottish “wizard,” happened upon their gathering. Scot supposedly turned them all to stone for their evil deeds… which frankly I think was a major overreaction to a bit of midnight dancing.

Autumn in Cumbria (20)

Legend now has it that the stones cannot be counted — that if you try to count them once, but then try again, you will get a different number each time. Another local story says that you should attempt to count the stones, then walk over to Meg and press your ear to her stone. She’ll tell you a secret — or possibly, if you’re really un/lucky, you’ll break the spell and the witches will all wake up.

Autumn in Cumbria (42)

An even more spooky and mysterious circle is Mayburgh Henge, not too far from Long Meg, at Eamont Bridge. Mayburgh is unlike other circles: rather than being made of large stones, its outer ring is made from piles and piles and piles of smaller ones, which have largely now been grown over by grass. The big stones were originally dragged to the middle of the circle and erected next to one another… except sometime between the Druids building the Henge and now, all but one of them have been stolen. We’re talking massive stones here. Why they were taken, and by whom — or what — is a local mystery to this day.

Autumn in Cumbria (46)

But for me the best thing about Mayburgh Henge is the trees: around the piled-up stone outer ring, ancient oaks and ashes are planted. In formation: oak, ash, oak, ash. Both trees have huge mythical significance and are considered very sacred by many. Check out the roots on this hundreds-of-years-old ash I perched on!

(Fun fact: Mayburgh is in spitting distance of the supposed site of King Arthur’s Round Table, also at Eamont Bridge.)

Autumn in Cumbria (52)

Autumn in Cumbria (53)

It’s been one of the hottest and driest autumns on record, and you might have seen in the news that the weather has uncovered some spooky stuff. I’m talking specifically about Mardale, the famous “drowned village,” which recently re-appeared out of what is now Haweswater. In 1934, Mardale village was bought by the water board and evacuated, then “drowned” to create a massive reservoir. Although everyone was safely relocated, there’s still something a little creepy about the fact that every so often, the lakewater recedes enough that you can see the ghosts of the village’s former buildings.

Autumn in Cumbria (54)

^ This sign, by the far end of Haweswater, just adds to the spook factor.

Autumn in Cumbria (55)

Autumn in Cumbria (56)

Lastly, we visited the Lowther Castle Park chapel and graveyard, where a good few of my relatives — who were in service to the Lowthers — are buried. The Lonsdale Family mausoleum is a creepy gothic palace, complete with gargoyles and scary, staring faces. Sitting high up on a man-made defensive escarpment, we found that the cemetery is also a pretty cool place to watch an autumn sunset…

Have a deliciously spooky Halloween, whatever you get up to!

*

Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #97: Barcelona edition

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

I went to Barcelona. I found plenty of things to love there.

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (4)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (5)

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Barcelona Autumn 2014 (34)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (38)

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Barcelona Autumn 2014 (49)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (56)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (67)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (71)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (76)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (79)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (88)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (91)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (87)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (89)

Barcelona Autumn 2014 (95)

What are YOU loving this week?

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #96: The Secret Herb Garden

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

My dear friend Martyna just moved back to Edinburgh, and it seems she has an uncanny ability to make me feel like the 18 year old undergrad I was when the two of us first met and started having adventures! Martyna has a great ability for sniffing out cool new places to discover, even in good old Edinburgh, where I was convinced I knew about all the cool stuff! Turns out, I’m wrong — I had no idea about The Secret Herb Garden, which is only short bus ride out of the city and a really, really great place to visit!

They have:

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

A huge, tangled, fragrant greenhouse where you’re free to wander, smell flowers, follow twisty paths and discover hidden clearings.

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

A coffee shop full of tasty treats (including all-gluten-free cakes and dairy free options… and we’re told vegan options are coming soon!), where you’re encouraged to take your drinks and snacks and wander off to find a pleasant place to sit!

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

A lovely shop where you can buy restored vintage furniture; ethical soaps, candles and smellies; useful gardening paraphernalia; pottery and glassware, and some clothing and homeware. All lovely unique and largely local stuff!

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Bees! Inside the stripy bee observatory, you can get a close up look at the transparent bee-hive and see the bees going about their business. Very cool.

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Chickens! Who very much like having their photo taken…

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

Pigs! Who like a friendly chat… although they may only have chatted with us because we expressly told them we were vegan.

Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh

All in all, a really rather excellent day out… and all for the cost of a bus ticket! We got to the herb garden by hopping on a number 15 bus at Tollcross. The 15 stops at Old Pentland Road, and you need to walk about ten minutes up that road to get there. The walk is fairly easy, with pavement (albeit narrow) all the way, and Martyna and I were able to stop and pick brambles and elderberries on the way!

Highly, highly, highly recommended!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #95

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Edventures (4)
LOOK WHERE I LIVE.

Edventures (13)
LOOK AT IT!

Here are some things I’ve seen around lately…

001 (4)
This skeleton, totally flirting with Lovely Boyfriend.

002 (3)
Forest Cafe’s new summer look.

003
Faces in things.

005
Amusing pop culture references.

006 (2)
This smiling bagel.

004 (2)
A kitty!

Edventures (9)
Stickers galore.

Edventures (21)
This Canonmills hotrod.

Edventures2 (4)
Daisies.

Edventures2 (5)
Furry flowers for bees to snuggle.

Edventures (27)
A van full of wine.

Edventures (22)
A skateboard bench!

Edventures2 (7)
This city centre idyll.

Edventures3 (1)
Tasty sorbet.

Edventures2 (9)
This chilled out dog.

Edventures3 (3)
Reassuring graffiti.

Edventures2 (1)
…and LIES.

What are YOU loving this week?

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #94: PhD graduation edition!

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

My PhD Graduation! (3)

My PhD Graduation! (4)

Obligatory proud parents shot. Also obligatory silly-face-without-them-knowing!

My PhD Graduation! (7)

A quick wide shot so you can check out my rather stunning dress.

My PhD Graduation! (11)

Three of my favourite people.

My PhD Graduation! (20)

Totes NBD.

PhD grad weekend adventures (1)

I was given these stunners by Dad-of-Lovely-Boyfriend and his lovely partner Mary-Helen. Thank you, you guys!

PhD grad weekend adventures (4)

The colour-coding is just perfect!

What are YOU loving this week?

*

Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #93

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

I’ve been pretty sick the past couple of weeks, with an absolute beast of a chest infection. However, some good stuff has been happening of late which has made me feel a little better. Check it out…

#whatveganseat

Vegan blueberry pancakes!

Vegan eats.
Lovely Boyfriend, aka my personal chef, really pulled out the stops while I was ill. Although I have no photo of it, the main thing I ate while I was at my most hoarse and stuffed up was an amazing vegan chilli full of delicious veggies and with tofu, beans and rice. LB made a massive pan of it so he could go to work and leave me with plenty of good healthy eats. It was totally wholesome and totally what I needed to feel better. As I started to feel more alive again, he celebrated the fact by making me the delicious stir fry in the top photo, with udon noodles (my favourite) and tofu and shiitake mushroom pot-sticker dumplings. AS AMAZING AS THEY LOOK. Then last weekend, my dear friend Lucy Florence — who’s been living in California these past few years — swung by for a whirlwind stop-over visit. That also needed celebrating, so LB cooked up some super tasty wholemeal and blueberry vegan pancakes for breakfast. He literally is the greatest.

Wildflowers in my window

Laburnum

Summertime.
Although the weather hasn’t been so stunning, I’ve been trying to keep in mind that it’s summer, hooray! The Warriston Path is absolutely brimming with gorgeous wildflowers at the moment: an absolute sea of cow parsley, plus plenty of buttercups, forget-me-nots and Jack-by-the-Hedge… which is what’s in my little bouquet above. There’s also ragged robin and even the odd cowslip, but obviously I only picked the most ubiquitous things, and did so carefully. And although there’s been a lot of rain, I am trying to think positively, and look up at the trees. They’re all so luminously green and lush, which means they’re enjoying the current weather. Given that trees are way more important than humans, I am trying to think of rain as “good” weather, instead of moaning about it. I mean… look at that laburnum, which I passed on a visit to Greyfriars Kirkyard. It’s clearly loving what the weather’s doing!

Presenting Scottish Book Trust's "john Muir: Earth-Planet, Universe" at the 2014 International John Muir Conference!

Presenting Scottish Book Trust's "john Muir: Earth-Planet, Universe" at the 2014 International John Muir Conference!

John Muir!  A lovely present for our team from the John Muir Trust :)

John Muir.
Look, it’s the Scottish Book Trust’s John Muir graphic novel, in the flesh!!! Although I only did a very little work on this project, I am still incredibly proud of it. It’s a graphic novel for 13-15 year olds that tells the story of John Muir’s (amazing) life, and promotes environmental responsibility and conservation. The top two photos are from the 2014 John Muir Conference, which I attended with my boss, Koren. We ran a stand, chatted to delegates, handed out copies of the book for free, and got to hear all the talks, which were incredible (keynote speaker George Monbiot, OMG!!!). You can find out more about what went down at the conference by checking out the Twitter hashtag #JM100Perth. And although all the physical books are spoken for (a class set has been sent, for free, to every secondary school in Scotland), you can read the entire thing in PDF format at our website… and if you’re a teacher or youth worker, you can also access our support materials!
The third photo is of a lovely gift given to Scottish Book Trust by our friends and colleagues at the John Muir Trust, who worked closely with us on the book. It now hangs in our office, right next to my desk. If ever I am feeling starved of inspiration, I look over at it and think of John Muir. He was a truly amazing man who produced so many inspirational writings and teachings, but my favourite quote of his (everyone who knows about him has one!) is:

The world is big, and I want to get a good look at it before it gets dark.

Given the oncoming “darkness” and uncertainty of climate change, I find this one spookily foreboding as well as encouraging. We’d all do well to live by this mantra, I think.

Word Power Books

JK Rowling never wrote here

Edinburgh.
Every so often, I get itchy feet. I like to think about what it might be like to live in one of my “dream locations”: in the UK, these are places like Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay or Ambleside; further afield, they’re places like Victoria (Canada), the San Juan Islands or Portland (Oregon). However, I think one of the reasons I’ve never quite made it to the suitcase-packing stage is… Edinburgh always calls me back. However chilly the winds, however lousy the trams, however ignored I feel when I talk about my political beliefs (I have notes, Mr Salmond), I can’t help but fall in love with this amazing city again and again and again. I mean, look at the poster I found in Word Power Books — Edinburgh’s bookshops are like places of worship, and most folk here absolutely know it. And look at that sign, currently sitting outside the Artisan Roast pop-up on Victoria Street (they also did a great Nigel Farage one)! Edinvarians know what side our bread’s buttered, but we’re also not afraid to poke fun at the tourists. Never change, Auld Reekie.

What are YOU loving this week?

*

Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #92: a guide to North Cumbria & Eden. & a kitty.

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

So, I’ve actually been really sick this week (sadface), so I have little other than snotty tissues and sad violins to share with you from the past seven days. However, a couple of weeks ago I did take a trip to lovely Wetheral… here’s some stuff I loved from then!

A Trip to Wetheral (1)

A Trip to Wetheral (29)

A Trip to Wetheral (45)

A Trip to Wetheral (44)

This is Benny, also known as Bennyboy and Benningtons and Bennington Ponsonby-Smythe and BennyandtheJets and lots of other utterly silly names. He is my parents’ cat — they adopted him just before Christmas and now he basically owns the place, and they are his awestuck humanslaves. Benny likes eating treats from your hand, coming in through his catflap and YELLING so you know he is back, and cuddles. Lots and lots of cuddles. He and my sister are totes BFFs.

A Trip to Wetheral (7)

A Trip to Wetheral (9)

A Trip to Wetheral (16)

Remember the friendly pig I mentioned in my last TiLT? Well, she had piglets… they just wouldn’t allow me to photograph them the first time. We went back to see how they’re getting on, and they were much keener to stay still this time! These cuties live at Askham Hall, which is a cool place to go and visit if you like mooching around posh gardens. They also have a cafe that is totally amaze. Look at what they cook their pizzas and bread in!:

A Trip to Wetheral (18)

Why yes, that is a hand-built walk-in log-fired outdoor oven. May I have one for my garden, please?

A Trip to Wetheral (10)

A Trip to Wetheral (12)

A Trip to Wetheral (4)

A Trip to Wetheral (15)

A Trip to Wetheral (17)

A Trip to Wetheral (32)

A Trip to Wetheral (34)

OK, let me explain. Every year, Wetheral and the surrounding villages hold a scarecrow contest. This year the theme was “celebrities” — and I think I recognise all of these, except the dodgy looking lady in the red fishnets, who was by far the creepiest offering. Although I completely loved Boris Johnson on his zipwire — and Captain Hook and his croc — the prize must surely have gone to the Star Wars mad household, no? It actually was May 4th, too!

A Trip to Wetheral (5)

A Trip to Wetheral (6)

A Trip to Wetheral (8)

A Trip to Wetheral (23)

A Trip to Wetheral (35)

A Trip to Wetheral (25)

A Trip to Wetheral (13)

May is one of my favourite months of the year. It’s what Mary Oliver calls “the quick wrist of early summer,” when every single plant seems just desperate to grow, and grow huge! Cumbria is one of the wettest places in the UK… but that means it’s also one of the lushest and greenest. Everything just seems to be a little more zingy and brightly coloured in the Eden Valley.

A Trip to Wetheral (20)

A Trip to Wetheral (22)

A Trip to Wetheral (24)

A Trip to Wetheral (26)

A Trip to Wetheral (28)

A Trip to Wetheral (33)

When I’m in the area, I love visiting Lowther. The “model village,” or estate village, is incredibly beautiful, as is the churchyard, where I took these photos. Lots of my relatives were in service at Lowther Castle or on the Lowther Estate — I’ve written about the castle and its gardens a little bit here. I’m a big fan of these little tucked-away Cumbrian towns… as much as I love the Lake District and especially South Lakes, I’m also really happy that I know about these little places further north where the tourists rarely venture!

A Trip to Wetheral (36)

A Trip to Wetheral (37)

A Trip to Wetheral (39)

A Trip to Wetheral (40)

A Trip to Wetheral (43)

Larch Cottage at Melkinthorpe is another place I have written about here before… but whenever I go, I can’t help but take photos of how totally cool it is! This time, my sister and I made friends with a majestic cast-iron stag, made faces at some terrible artwork in their art gallery (sorry folks), I wanted to steal those forlorn greyhounds, and I brought home a sorrel plant (named Cyril the Sorrel, natch) for my garden.

A Trip to Wetheral (19)

…apparently there’s not all that much to do in Wetheral.

What are YOU loving this week?

*

Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #91

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

In the past week or so, I…

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14
…met a friendly pig!

Spring '14
…spied on a kitty surveying his lands!

Spring '14
…appreciated public transport!

Spring '14
…welcomed spring to my street!

Spring '14
…appreciated smartassery!

Spring '14
…breakfasted like a queen!

Spring '14
…had my first cook-out of 2014!

& perhaps most importantly, this happened:

Spring '14

What are YOU loving this week?

*

Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

30 before 30 / Things I Love Thursday #90: adventures in Wordsworth Country

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Point 6 in my 30 by 30 post was “get out more,” and I thought I’d start right away. So I went on a writing holiday, to the countryside that’s inspired some of the real greats. Here’s some stuff I got inspired by:

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

Adventures in Wordsworth Country, Apr 14

What are YOU loving this week?

*

Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!